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The Dark Crystal Wiki

I did not build an Empire only to watch it turn to dust.

Skeksis banner

Skeksis banner, showing the broken abiranariba serpent, sigil of the Empire, superimposed over a symbol of the Great Conjunction

The Skeksis Empire was an autocratic state encompassing almost all of Skarith and ruled by the Skeksis, who held sway over a number of subject races, including Gelfling and Podlings.

Established almost immediately after the Great Division, the Empire maintained its power by monopolizing access to the Crystal and portraying itself as the legitimate successor to the order established by the urSkeks. Lasting throughout the Age of Division, the Empire maintained order and promoted innovation and culture throughout Skarith, while simultaneously displacing or exterminating any race that opposed it.

During the late Age of Division, the Empire suffered its first major crisis in its confrontation with the Gelfling resistance, which culminated in the Garthim War. After the death of skekSo, administration of the state was hampered by infighting, which contributed to the eventual healing of the Crystal and the ultimate dissolution of the Empire.


The Empire was an autocracy headed by an Emperor who held almost absolute power, with limitations being imposed by religious dogma. Directly under the Emperor was a triumvirate consisting of a Chamberlain responsible for maintaining the sovereign's personal assets,[2] a General in charge of state security,[3] and a Ritual Master responsible for providing prophecies and religious guidance,[4] all three of which had constitutional claims to the succession should the Emperor have expired.[3]

The Skeksis enjoyed a state of full supremacy over all other races of Thra, with even the lowliest Skeksis outranking the Gelfling All-Maudra.[1] This was originally done by portraying themselves as legitimate successors to the urSkeks as guardians of the Crystal, which the Gelfling venerated,[5] though extensive historical revisionism resulted in all memory of the urSkeks being lost to the Gelfling,[6] and strict censorship impeded them from learning the truth of the Skeksis' origins.[1]


Castle of the Crystal - Dark

The Castle of the Crystal, the seat of imperial power

The Castle of the Crystal was the imperial seat of power. Its influence stretched throughout the majority of Skarith, having apparently never extended underground to Mithra. The Valley of the urRu was one of the few locations on the surface world that the Empire never encompassed, as it was protected by Standing Stones,[7] and the Skeksis feared the interference of their urRu counterparts, knowing that by harming them they would have harmed themselves.[3]



The Garthim, backbone of the Skeksis military during the late Age of Division

Initially, the Skeksis fought their own battles, though armed with primitive weapons provided by their Gelfling allies.[5] Once imperial rule had been consolidated, and military ranks established, the Skeksis formed the Castle Guard to act as their army. The Skeksis could also count on the Maudras to provide them with supplemental troops in the event of war.[8] After the collapse of the Alliance of the Crystal, the Skeksis once again fought by themselves, this time armed with Garthic-style swords and projectile weapons.[9] Following the Skeksis' defeat during the Second Battle of Stone-in-the-Wood, the Garthim were mass produced to defend the Skeksis from the Gelfling resistance, only to subsequently be repurposed as an extermination force.

Technology and infrastructure[]

We gave the poor creatures of Thra order, innovation and purpose. What have you done in all that time, Mother Aughra?

SkekVar leads Arathim

SkekVar using a spotlight during the quelling of the Stonewood Rebellion

The Skeksis inherited the scientific knowledge of their urSkek forebears, and created the most technologically advanced civilization in Thra's history. By the late Age of Division, the Skeksis, under the supervision of skekTek, had created machines and accessories powered by electricity, including pulley systems, prods, and lights. This was made possible through the use of Solobes as living batteries.[11]

The Empire's medical technology was also highly advanced, making extensive use of fully functional prosthetic limbs and sensory organs, as well as having perfected the creation of new species via grafting. Such creatures included the Garthim and the Crystal Bats. According to the Book of Aughra, the Skeksis were even fully capable of creating a crystal more powerful than the Dark Crystal itself, but were prevented from doing so by their perpetual infighting.[12]

The Empire operated on a barter economy,[13] with its main source of revenue coming from tithes collected once every trine. Collection and transportation of the tithes was made possible through the use of Armalig-powered carriages.[1] Long-range communication and intelligence gathering was originally achieved through the use of couriers,[14] though the outbreak of the Garthim War saw the development of spy crystals transported by Crystal Bats, which projected images of their surroundings directly to the Dark Crystal itself.[15]


Ideology and legislation[]

The Skeksis Laws

The Skeksis Laws

Reflecting the Skeksis' fear of death, the Empire's ideology centered around their presumed immortality, with any doubts being considered blasphemy. This dogma was so entrenched that, for nearly a thousand trine, the Skeksis lacked funerary rites.[16] Imperial ideology also portrayed the Skeksis as a superior race who were owed everything by the other denizens of Thra.[8]

Prior to the Garthim War, Gelfling subjects were given some measure of local autonomy, and were permitted to settle their own internal affairs,[10] as well as maintain their own armed forces (such as the Paladins). Gelfling Clans whose spiritual beliefs conflicted with Skeksis ideology, such as the Dousan, were simply exempt from service in the Castle.[17]

Skeksis law was harsh to those accused of heresy or of losing a dispute over royal succession, both of which were punishable by exile.[6][15] Active revolt would result in immediate military intervention and seizure of territory, which would be granted to loyal subjects once the rebels had been crushed, as was the case with the Arathim.[6] At the height of the Empire's power, the Emperor was so sure of the security of his position that treason was not considered a serious enough crime to warrant torture.[13] However, putting the Alliance of the Crystal at risk was punishable by bodily mutilation.[18]


Modern Gelfling was used as a lingua franca throughout the Empire, with the grammatically and lexically impoverished Skeksis language being relegated to purely ceremonial functions among the Lords of the Crystal themselves. Podling subjects were apparently not obligated to learn the common tongue, and were free to use their native language even within the Castle. The Gelfling Clans were also at liberty to keep their distinct writing systems.

Behind the scenes[]

The Empire was first conceived in The Mithra Treatment, where it was described as a totalitarian society that took power after a coup against the Eunaze twenty years prior. It was written to have "achieved total power and rule" within the world of Mithra, and of controlling "every aspect of daily life within each sub-group", as well as the entirety of the world's mineral wealth.[19]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Age of resistance logo Age of Resistance – "End. Begin. All the Same.". Netflix. August 30, 2019
  2. Lee, J.M (2019), Heroes of the Resistance, Penguin Young Readers Licences, p. 54, ISBN 978-0.593-09539-3
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Smith, A. C. H., & Odell, D. (1982). The Dark Crystal. Holt, Rinehart and Winston . ISBN 0030624363
  4. Froud, B., (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. p. 88. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
  5. 5.0 5.1 B. Froud, M. Dow Smith, A. Sheikman & L. John (2015). The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths, Vol. III. Archaia. ISBN 978-1-60886-435-5.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Age of resistance logo Age of Resistance – "Time to Make...My Move". Netflix. August 30, 2019
  7. Froud, B., (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. p. 52. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
  8. 8.0 8.1 Age of resistance logo Age of Resistance – "She Knows All the Secrets". Netflix. August 30, 2019
  9. Age of resistance logo Age of Resistance – "A Single Piece Was Lost". Netflix. August 30, 2019
  10. 10.0 10.1 Age of resistance logo Age of Resistance – "What Was Sundered and Undone". Netflix. August 30, 2019
  11. Cesare, A. & Compiet, I. (2020), The Dark Crystal Bestiary: The Definitive Guide to the Creatures of Thra, Insight Editions, p. 114, ISBN 1683838211
  12. Froud, B., (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. p. 116. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
  13. 13.0 13.1 Cesare, A. & Compiet, I. (2020), The Dark Crystal Bestiary: The Definitive Guide to the Creatures of Thra, Insight Editions, p. 50, ISBN 1683838211
  14. Age of resistance logo – Andelfinger, Nicole., Age of Resistance – The Quest for the Dual Glaive, #1, Archaia, USA, September 25, 2019
  15. 15.0 15.1 Henson, J. & Oz, F. (dir.); Henson, J., Kurtz, G. & Lazer, D. (prod.); Henson, J. & Odell, D. (writ.) (December 17, 1982). The Dark Crystal (Motion picture). New York City, NY: Jim Henson Productions.
  16. Age of resistance logo Age of Resistance – "The Crystal Calls". Netflix. August 30, 2019
  17. Age of resistance logo Age of Resistance – "By Gelfling Hand...". Netflix. August 30, 2019
  18. Cesare, A. & Compiet, I. (2020), The Dark Crystal Bestiary: The Definitive Guide to the Creatures of Thra, Insight Editions, p. 46, ISBN 1683838211
  19. Jim Henson, The Mithra Treatment [DVD special Feature]. The Dark Cyrstal: Collector's Edition, Dir. Jim Henson & Frank Oz. 1982. Colombia Tristar Home Entertainment, 2003. DVD.